Now in our fifth month after COP21, we thought we’d take a tour around the world to see where the biggest emitters are with their climate change commitments.
China and the USA
Exactly two weeks from today (April 22), the USA and China will sign the Paris Agreement they agreed to sign at the COP21. The hope is that this will compel other countries to formally join the agreement they agreed to join at the Paris COP and to start taking steps to cut carbon emissions.
So what does the agreement contain? There’s no way of being sure yet. In the joint Presidents’ announcement, they mention supporting an “HFC amendment under the Montreal Protocol pursuant to the Dubai Pathway and on a global market-based measure for addressing greenhouse gas emissions from international aviation at the International Civil Aviation Organization Assembly”. We’re curious to see what the agreement will mean for the heavily subsidised Chinese production of solar power products that have so far threatened American industry.
There is also some trepidation, as the US and China were frequently blamed for the lack of progress at the UN climate talks, arguing that limiting their emissions would jeopardize economic growth. While the USA was reluctant to set targets unlesss major competing economies such as China did the same, China, India, and other nations argued that the richest nations, which have historically released the most carbon, should be the first to commit to stricter standards.
Now that there is increasing proof that carbon emissions can be de-coupled from economic growth, there are fewer and fewer reasons why China and the United States cannot take strong action on climate change. In the USA, plans to limit carbon emissions from power plants have been stalled by a Supreme Court review of the Clean Power Plan — see our post from last week.
David Cameron has no new plans to appoint a climate change envoy, a role created in the run-up to the Paris talks.
The EU’s renewable energy targets may actually have increased GHG emissions because the dirtiest biofuels–especially those made from palm oil–produce three times the emissions of diesel.An analysis of the EU Emissions Trading System for 2015 showed little change, despite efficiency gains and plant closures. A draft UN plan to offset the aviation industry’s emissions (one of two sectors NOT covered by the Paris agreement) has been met with a lot of criticism.
Australia has also pledged to sign the Paris agreement this month.
Canada and the USA have been developing a relationship grounded in cutting methane emissions from the oil and gas industry by up to 45% from 2012 levels by 2025. Canada will also be hosting a climate change symposium–Adaptation Canada–in a few days in Ottawa.
India will be signing the Paris accord later this month, but coal will remain a major source of power in the years to come, according to the country’s environment minister Prakash Javedekar, in order to bring power to the 300 million Indians without electricity by 2019. NASA and India’s space agency ISRO are also working on launching a satellite to monitor climate change. The EU has recently pledged to help develop India’s electricity grid with large solar parks, to support the development of smart grids, and to help plan India’s first offshore wind array.
Brazil, along with South Africa, India, and China–the “BASIC” countries–asked for developed nations to “scale up” their level of financial support and “honour” their obligations to provide $100 billion per year in support for climate change actions by 2020.